As a Missouri big rig accident attorney, I was interested to see that in February, the National Transportation Safety Board released its updated “Most Wanted List” of needed improvements to the nation’s transportation systems. It named the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as being unacceptably slow in its response to regulating tractor-trailer drivers and carriers on several important safety issues. The agency’s slowness to respond to these issues allows motor carriers to employ semi drivers who are medically unfit or otherwise unqualified for the job, and put unsafe vehicles on the road, opening the possibility of terrible accidents that could cost innocent people their lives.
The NTSB is calling for the FMCSA to crack down on motor carriers that hire unqualified drivers and use vehicles with mechanical problems, by preventing these carriers from operating at all. In addition, the NTSB wants electronic onboard data recorders (EOBR) in trucks to help reconstruct accidents when they occur and to gather accurate data about drivers’ hours of service, or how long drivers spend on the road. Truck drivers are subject to hours-of-service regulations to ensure that they are not driving while fatigued and thus prone to making mistakes and causing accidents. But according to The Trucker, the FMCSA is considering a rule that requires EOBRs only for two-year periods for carriers that historically have not complied with regulations or have had high accident rates. NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman said that making the EOBR requirement punitive would not make the roads significantly safer, since it would track the hours of service compliance for just 930 of 700,000 carriers — 0.13%.
The NTSB would prefer that every truck carry an EOBR, so hours of service can be tracked and problems corrected before they lead to a serious accident. As a southern Illinois tractor trailer accident lawyer, I strongly agree. Our system currently relies on truckers to be honest about their hours, but evidence from trucking accident trials shows that many are not. Driving while fatigued is emerging as a serious distracted-driving issue for all drivers, not just truckers — but it’s a particularly serious issue for truck drivers under pressure to avoid financial penalties for late deliveries. By tracking hours-of-service violations for all carriers, regulators can take unsafe carriers off the road before they can cause devastating accidents. The NTSB is right to push for tighter controls on factors that could cause such accidents.
If you have been injured or a family member has been killed in a collision with a large truck, please contact a St. Louis trucking accident attorney at Carey, Danis & Lowe for help. We can find out whether the truck driver, trucking company, or trailer owner is responsible for the accident and if so, hold them legally and financially accountable for the accident. Accidents with large trucks are physically catastrophic, but they can also be financially catastrophic, causing six- or seven-figure medical bills and taking victims away from work for months, or sometimes for good. In a lawsuit, we can help victims claim compensation for current and future accident-related medical expenses, all of the family’s lost wages, physical pain and emotional suffering, any disability or death and other accident-related damages.
To schedule an initial free consultation with Carey, Danis & Lowe, please call 1-877-678-3400 or contact us online.